Yesterday I attended my first conference (outside of my placement!!) on a topic that is so important to me: women working towards a career in an STEM-related industry, more specifically, in tech.
I’ve talked about this topic a lot on my blog including past stories and experiences – you can read up here if you’re interested!
I was initially invited to the conference by Matt with his HackSheffield crew but as the event was held around the same time I started running the Code First: Girls courses, I decided to spread the hype to the girls participating.
I didn’t think there would be much interest at first but with the amazing ShefCodeFirst team focusing on going above “just teaching the course” and actually saying, “hey, check out what you can do with these skills. E.g. – awesome women in the industry right now who is killlllllling it” we managed to get a large group of people to come – from Code First and HackSheffield, we even took over a carriage on the train and had a lot of printing to do for our train tickets. 😂
Despite getting the early train at 7 am, everyone was full of energy which only amplified when we got to the conference because of all the speakers, volunteers, organisers, sponsors and attendee’s contagious excitement. ✨
There was an amazing line-up of speakers who all delivered such inspiring talks. My favorite talk had to be by Jess Rose, who spoke about how she got into tech, her job in Developer Relations (a job I never thought even existed! 😱) and some advice in working with the industry. One of my favorites:
One of the common themes was the focus on finding a positive community. Finding like minded people and surrounding yourself with them to empower and push to the direction in life was is so important.
Joining the Code First community with an amazing group of like-minded girls at every “cycle” has been a highlight of my time at university so far, they’ve not inspired me with their stories and ideas but each other too! 💖
After lunch (which was great, but then again when isn’t free food great) we attended workshops, the first one I attended was helping you with your career in tech led by MHR Solutions. All the female speakers each, in turn, shared their experience and stories of working towards a career in tech and how they got to where they are now.
I especially enjoyed one of the speakers who’s interest in technology started from creating fansites of Buffy the Vampire Slayer using basic HTML/CSS and of course, Photoshop. I related to her a lot because I also followed a similar plan but with my “blog” where I shared my phase at the time probably including a dedicated section on High School Musical (those who have been reading my blog for a while would know 🙄) She now holds a UX/UI Designer role with MHR.
Other stories really resonated with me as well, including one who was confused for the longest time on what she wanted to do so went into a science field only to realize later that tech is the field she wanted to be in.
My take home message from this workshop definitely had to be:
You don’t need a Computer Science Degree to become a Software Engineer.
Which goes for any role in the tech world! This was proven time and time again throughout the day, which put me in positive spirits and motivated me to go after a career I want despite my degree! Inspiring bloggers I follow now, like Holly, is living proof! ✨
The second workshop I signed up for was BBC Microbit with CoderDojoLondon. It was awesome to learn something new and create cool things like:
— Owen Roberts (@ocroberts1) February 18, 2017
Spending time with the CF:G girls, HackSheffield crew as well as meeting new people and being inspired by everyone’s enthusiasm towards women in tech was an overwhelmingly positive experience.
Take home messages:
- Yes, I’m female aspiring to work in a male-dominated field but I can do exactly what they can do.
- Opportunities in tech vary A LOT. I learned about a lot of careers I didn’t even know exist!
- You don’t have to do CompSci to get in the industry.
- Never doubt yourself or compare yourself to other people who are “miles” ahead in their career, keep asking questions and continue learning! You can’t be expected to know everything already.
- Go for it – you’re not an imposter!! (Don’t let imposter syndrome hold you back!)
- Community is powerful 💖
- I need to get involved in Hackathons. The Sex Tech Hackathon by Kate Devlin has caught my attention, ngl. 😅
I am super thankful for the opportunity despite being a little nervous about it (can I tick off my #7 resolution yet? 🤔) I’ll definitely be back again next year!
A big thank you to HackSoc and the University of Nottingham for organizing everything. You all rock! 👌🏻
WIT: in pictures